New Delhi, Feb 8 (IANS): The report by Federation of International Cricketers Association (FICA) said on Wednesday that opportunities to earn a living from playing professional cricket have grown, with 207 central contracts offered by 11 countries, up by 75% from 2020. It also noted that there's a clear increase in competitive structures of women's cricket.
"The majority of cricket nations have made positive progress since FICA's 2020 report, with a clear increase in competitive structures and professional employment opportunities (119 central contracts in 2020 increased to 209 in the report period, plus 492 major domestic T20 league contract opportunities projected in 2023)."
"A number of national governing bodies have also implemented positive policy reform including gender equity principles. There remains significant room for further targeted initiatives and investment at global level and in more countries to expedite progress," said the first key finding in the report published on Wednesday.
FICA also said that the gap between the 'haves' and 'have nots' highlighted previously still exists, with a clear correlation between on-field performance, and off field structures and investment.
"Whilst some of this is the result of the level of prioritisation given to the women's game in certain countries, some reflects the significant inequality in overall global game economics, which could be partially addressed by targeted global funding," they added.
Another key finding FICA mentioned is that 73% women's cricket players continue to support a global schedule that enables international cricket and domestic leagues to co-exist, with a significant number (48%) indicating they would consider rejecting national contracts if paid more to compete in domestic leagues if required to choose.
"Flight of talent from international cricket has become a significant issue in the men's game and the emergence of WPL and WPSL, in addition to other established major domestic T20 leagues, means the game's leadership has a limited opportunity to find the optimal balance between formats, and to implement clear parameters and scheduling windows to enable international cricket to co-exist with the growing domestic leagues landscape," further added the report.
With the Women's Premier League (WPL) set to be played from March 4-26 in Mumbai, and the player auction to happen on February 13, FICA thinks the five-team league can "look set to dramatically change the playing and employment landscapes from 2023 onwards", citing the financial investment through media rights and the sale of franchises in particular. The level of investment, as said by FICA, is likely to create a new "top of the pyramid" for women's players.
"FICA is player led in everything it does, and these Reports continue to be an important part of FICA's contribution to the game and its advocacy for players. Given the pace of change, capturing the playing and employment landscapes at a point in time in these reports is becoming increasingly challenging, and that's a good thing."
"Pleasingly there have been a large number of positives to highlight globally during the report period, however, there are a number of significant issues that require addressing and FICA continues to urge the game's leadership to work with it to address these," concluded Tom Moffat, FICA CEO.